Social and Behavioral Sciences

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Social and behavioral sciences address a range of human issues. Behavioral science refers to the investigation of human and animal behavior through observation and experimentation, while social sciences explore the structure and impact of groups

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Explore the human condition in its many different contexts through our rich and stimulating programs in the Social and Behavioral Sciences such as Africana Studies, Anthropology, Economics, History, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and related interdisciplinary programs. Study in the social and behavioral sciences can be easily integrated with research opportunities and study abroad. Students of anthropology and other subjects have opportunities to participate in our field school programs at the Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya and at many other international sites. Stony Brook graduates Russell Lewis, former CEO and President of the New York Times Company, and Robert Gallucci, Dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and former U.S. State Department Ambassador at Large, credit much of their success to Social and Behavioral Sciences’ multicultural and multidisciplinary approach to learning and to life.
Africana Studies

Interdisciplinary in nature, the Department of Africana Studies considers the experiences of persons of African descent throughout the world. The major in Africana Studies is designed to explore African civilizations and their influences on other parts of the Black Diaspora. Issues within the black international communities in Africa, the United States, and elsewhere are examined from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Particular attention is focused on political concepts, cultural development, legal relations, and social theories. The major in Africana Studies provides students with a thorough background in the historical, political, social, and economic conditions of people of African descent. Because of this field’s interdisciplinary approach, students are exposed to the critical contributions of scholars representing a variety of theoretical approaches and intellectual perspectives, enhancing the student’s knowledge and understanding, while encouraging higher-level thinking and the ability to critically evaluate ideas and information. Many Africana Studies majors and minors have gone on to graduate and professional schools better prepared in various disciplines and professions including law, medicine, business, engineering, nursing, social work, and education. Africana Studies courses also benefit students who go on to do graduate work in history, politics, anthropology, sociology, literature, and other fields.

American Studies

With the increase in migration and economic globalization and their impact on the culture of the United States and the Americas as a whole, scholars in many disciplines are examining, from interdisciplinary perspectives, the impact of the making of the Americas on world culture. The program in American Studies redefines traditional disciplinary approaches, inte grating and connecting new approaches to American studies that include a multicultural as well as a transnational understanding of the Americas. New methods of cultural analysis are introduced that challenge the power of comparative transnational histories to diversify political narratives of citizenship, homeland, and popular sovereignty. They also challenge how we understand others. The interdisciplinary major in American Studies introduces students to the rich variety of cultures, languages, and societies of the Americas. Students develop an in-depth knowledge of American culture beginning with core courses introducing interdisciplinary methods, through elective courses in a particular concentration, and synthesized by a capstone seminar. Graduates with a major in American Studies can expect to work in education, business, journalism, government, and politics. Combined with a science major, the major provides a good background for the health professions. Majors will also be prepared to move on to graduate study in business, education, the humanities, law, and social sciences.

Anthropology is a social science that seeks to understand and explain human cultural, behavioral, and biological variation through time and space. This gives anthropology a wide reach and has resulted in the formation of three subdisciplines: cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology. Cultural anthropology concentrates on modern human culture and behavior. Archaeology examines cultural and behavioral variation over time through the material culture of past people. Biological anthropology studies the biological evidence for human evolution, encom – passing everything from the study of modern non-human primates to the earliest stages of mammalian fossil evolution. The objective of the Anthropology major is to train the student in all three subdisciplines while allowing the student to concentrate in a specific subdiscipline. Students with a degree in anthropology take several postgraduate paths. Some continue their anthropology training in graduate schools, many at the finest graduate schools in the country. Others pursue, for example, medical school or conservation studies. The undergraduate program introduces the student to the general field of anthropology, its branches, its theories and methods, and its relation to the other social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences. The curriculum emphasizes the fields of cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology. Students often have the opportunity to pursue coursework in any of the three fields in different cultural settings through our outstanding study abroad programs.
Asian & Asian American Studies

The interdisciplinary major in Asian and Asian American Studies combines analytical perspectives and research methods of the social sciences and humanities in an integrated curriculum that is based on area studies and ethnic studies scholarship. Students acquire indepth knowledge of particular regions of Asia, enhanced appreciation of Asian cultures and societies, greater awareness of contemporary issues of global concern facing both Asia and the United States, and a better understanding of the histories, struggles, and contributions of Asian Americans. The major includes training in a relevant Asian language, a concentration in a specific region of Asia, and courses in various disciplines that converge on an identified theme of study. It complements minors in China Studies, Japanese Studies, Korean Studies, and South Asian Studies, as well as the major and minor in Religious Studies. Students are encouraged to gain a first-hand experience of living in and studying Asian cultures. Stony Brook offers a summer program in China, Japan and India and academic year programs in China, Japan, and Korea. Similar programs are being planned in other countries. The academic offerings of the department are complemented by the rich array of resources and programming at the program in China Studies, Center for India Studies, Center for Japan Studies, the Center for Korean Studies,, the Asian American Center Bridge, and the Charles B. Wang Center, which collaborate with various academic departments, student groups, community organizations, and individuals to promote a better understanding of Asia and Asian Americans today. A major in Asian and Asian American Studies will open attractive opportunities for students who plan to pursue a wide range of careers, including the arts, business, education, economics, government, journalism, law, literature, and media. Many students increase their employment opportunities by pursuing a double major. In addition, Asian and Asian American Studies offers challenging opportunities at the graduate and professional school level as well.

China Studies

The China Studies program enables students majoring in other fields to pursue China-related courses relevant to their own interests, while developing knowledge and skills that will advance their educational and career goals. Drawing on the perspectives of complementary disciplines, the program offers an 18-credit minor in China Studies that covers both contemporary and historical issues. Students may also earn academic credit through study abroad opportunities.
Community Service Learning
The interdisciplinary minor in Community Service Learning is open to all undergraduates who wish to add a service learning dimension to their academic experience. The program, housed in James College, is designed to use the special educational and research opportunities available at Stony Brook to create citizens with the depth of commitment to community service that the 21st century demands. Acquisition of skills and knowledge is combined with a fostering of appreciation by students of their role as citizens both in the University and in the surrounding communities. The learning arena is extended into the community by addressing local social issues. After completion of academic course work, student interns are partnered and assigned to work in specific communities to address community concerns.

Economics is the study of production, distribution, and exchange of goods and services. It investigates such questions as price formation, degree of employment of labor and other resources, efficient use of scarce resour ces, and the basis and effects of government policies in the economy. Economics also analyzes, compares, and contrasts different economic systems in the world, and studies the international economic relations among countries. The areas of study in the Department fall into three broad classifications. The first of these, microeconomics, deals with the theoretical and empirical study of the behavior and interrelationships of individual economic agents, such as firms and individuals, and their interaction through markets. Next, macroeconomics examines the large sectors of the economy such as government, business, money and banking, and international trade. It also covers such topics as unemployment, inflation, and economic growth. Finally, econometrics uses statistics to estimate, test, and predict patterns of behavior of the various units and relationships that make up the economy. The undergraduate economics program is designed to give students a beginning sense of what economists do as well as how they think. After taking the introductory course, students acquire a more thorough background in economic theory. The remaining economics courses used to satisfy the major requirements focus on particular aspects of economics (e.g., labor markets, industrial organization, money and banking, economic development, fi- nance) showing how economists analyze the theoretical and empirical issues. Some upper-division courses apply statistical methods, which are taught (but not required) in the program. Students with a degree in Economics can pursue graduate studies leading to an M.A. or Ph.D. in Economics, or to a Master of Business Administration de-gree. The major is also especially useful for students interested in graduate studies in such areas as law, human resources, public policy, and health economics. The majority of graduating Eco nomics majors who continue their education either go to law school or pursue an M.B.A.
Ecosystems and Human Impact

The Ecosystems and Human Impact major, leading to a Bachelor of Art degree, provides the skills, knowledge, and preparation for students to assess and address the complex interaction of humans and natural environments. The curriculum integrates principles and methodologies from ecology, biology, genetics, anthropology, human ecology, and geography, combined with an understanding of economics, ethics, and policy within a greater global perspective. The major prepares students for entrylevel employment in the public, private, or non-profit sectors concerned with a wide range of issues, such as: conservation of ecosystems, ecosystem restoration, loss of biodiversity, and development of sustainable bioresources. The major prepares students for graduate study in anthropology, geography, environmental science, sociology, natural resource management, and biology among other fields. The major builds on the interdisciplinary sustainability core curriculum. Students will enroll in major-specific courses in their junior and senior year. In their junior or senior year students will have the opportunity to enroll in the study abroad program at Ranomafana, Madagascar, which provides training in field biology, ecology, primatology, and anthropology. Local internships, research courses, and field courses are also available to students to build up real-world experience. The Ecosystems and Human Impact minor is intended for students who seek to complement their chosen major with a coherent set of courses emphasizing the interaction between humans and ecosystems from an interdisciplinary perspective
Environmental Design, Policy, and Planning

The Environmental Design, Policy, and Planning major, leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree, provides the skills, knowledge, and preparation for students to understand and address complex issues related to development, land-use, urbanization, and suburban sprawl. The curriculum integrates principles and methodologies from social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. The goal is to address the complex scientific, legal, ethical, political, environmental, and socio-economic issues that surround the development, management, and use of the built environment. The B.A. degree prepares students for entry-level employment in the public, private, or non-profit sectors in a variety of fields including urban and regional planning, community planning, environmental consulting, land and real estate development, and public administration. The major prepares students for graduate study in environmental design, planning, architecture, law, management and business.
European Studies

The Program in European Studies is designed to foster knowledge of European civilization. In acquainting students with European culture and history, it enables them to understand those traditions that give Europe’s diversified personality its inner coherence. The program promotes an interdisciplinary approach while insisting upon a structured course of study. Completion of courses at a European university on a study-abroad program is strongly recommended. The interdisciplinary major in European Studies introduces students to the rich variety of cultures, politics, languages, and literatures of Europe. Students acquire fundamental knowledge of Euro pean culture and history by beginning with two core courses (EUR 101 and EUR 201) and two courses in European History (HIS 101 and HIS 102). They deepen this knowledge by selecting four courses in one of several concentrations, and they develop bread th by taking two additional courses in a different concentration. Their program is intended to culminate in EUR 401, a capstone seminar in which students apply their general knowledge within a particular concentration to a specific project. Graduates with the major in European Studies can expect to work in business, government, the service industry, and politics. Majors will also be prepared to continue with graduate studies in business, humanities, law, and social sciences.

International Studies

The interdisciplinary minor in International Studies provides an integrated view of global processes through a critical examination of the world’s institutions, ideas, cultures, and historical traditions. Students should develop a strong grasp of current social, political, and economic developments in the world, and be able to apply this knowledge to analyze both the opportunities and problems created by global processes, and the possibilities for social activism and change. The minor is open to all undergraduates regardless of academic major or place of residence. As part of the minor requirements, students select a world region to study from among the following: Africa, Asia, Europe, Eurasia (post-Soviet states including Russia), Latin America/the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in study abroad programs. With the approval of the director, credits earned for courses taken abroad may count toward fulfillment of the minor. In addition, the minor is a living learning center program affiliated with Stimson International College. Students are encouraged to live in Stimson College and actively participate in college events, but this is not required for completion of the minor

Italian American Studies I

nterdisciplinary in nature, Italian Ame – rican studies considers the experiences of persons of Italian descent in North and South America with particular attention to experiences in the United States. The minor is designed to assist students in exploring the ways in which Italian and American cultures have combined to form a distinctive ethnic culture. The minor in Italian American studies offers students the opportunity to survey developments in the field of Italian American studies, as well as to examine it in relation to the fields of history, literature, media, and language study. Students are encouraged to approach Italian American studies from the perspective of their major. Combined with a major in Political Science, History, or Psychology, the minor provides students with an in-depth exploration of the role of ethnicity in the definition of what it means to be American. The study of the Italian American experience will assist students with a major in Sociology to understand the theoretical approaches to the study of urban and suburban cultures. Students of American literature or culture may use the minor to develop a specialty in the study of a specific ethnic American culture. Students examining issues of gender may use the minor to explore the effects of gender and ethnicity on American culture. Students who wish to pursue a career in law or the health professions may use the minor to further their understanding of the community they may ultimately serve.

Political Science

Political Science is the study of how societies make collective decisions through politics and government. It is subdivided into the following areas: American politics (study of American institutions and practices); comparative politics (study of foreign governments); international relations (study of war, international organization, and foreign policies); political theory (study of the bases of legitimate political authority); political behavior (study of why people vote and act as they do in political matters); and public policy (study of organizational decision-making and the consequences of government action). The objective of the Political Science major is to give the student a general introduction to all the major subfields of the discipline and an in-depth exposure to one or two of them. Students study not only the major literature of the sub-fields, but also learn research methods and become familiar with ongoing research. Internships in Long Island, Albany, and Washington offer selected students the opportunity to gain practical experience. The Political Science major provides a strong liberal arts background for students who may enter such fields as journalism, business, public administration, social welfare, teaching, and law. Those who graduate from law school go on to work in law firms, in businesses, and in government agencies at all levels. Most Political Science majors who apply to law school are admitted, many of them to top-ranking institutions. Some Political Science majors attend graduate school in the field, leading to careers as teachers and researchers of politics at colleges and universities.

The study of psychology provides an understanding of the biological, cognitive, social, and clinical origins of behavior, thought, and emotion, and the methods that psychologists use to investigate these. Knowledge of psychological principles and the ability to evaluate theories and research are essential in our rapidly changing society. The Department of Psychology offers undergraduate programs leading to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. The objective of both programs is to provide a broad overview of psychology, and both require extensive exposure to areas other than psychology as a context for study in the major. The B.S. program places relatively more emphasis on the natural sciences and mathematics. Both the B.S. and B.A. programs provide ex – ce llent preparation for graduate school. The Psychology major provides students with a background of fundamental subject matter that will equip them for subsequent graduate study in related fields. The major is also beneficial for students seeking careers that involve knowledge about interpersonal relationships such as medicine, education, law, or management. Psychology expertise is also relevant to standard business settings in which a major goal is to adapt products and services to closely reflect human needs and capabilities.


Sociology is the systematic study of social life. It is based on the assumption that there are certain patterns to the way people live and think and that by studying their behavior and attitudes, these patterns can be discovered and explained. Sociologists investigate how the group influences behavior, from the smallest (a two-person relationship, like husband and wife) to the largest (huge organizations, such as General Motors or the Catholic Church). Any thing having to do with social behavior is the subject matter of sociology. The Bachelor of Arts program at Stony Brook seeks to develop in students both an understanding of a history of social thought and skills in the collection and analysis of social data. The core program includes one semester of Introduction to Sociology, one semester of sociological theory, one semester of research methods, and one semester of statistics. Students who have completed this program have attended graduate schools in sociology or related disciplines, law school, social welfare, and pursued careers in advertising, marketing, and business management. Some work in the field of market research (studying for large companies what products people want to buy), demography (studying the population scientifically, as in the United States census), criminology (investigating the causes and nature of crime and criminal justice), urban planning, polling, and public opinion (like the Gallup or Harris Polls).
Women’s & Gender Studies

Women’s and gender studies is an interdisciplinary area of scholarship and research that focuses on the significance of gender as a variable in experience, history, and culture. Women’s and gender studies raises questions that often have been ignored or marginalized, and it makes the experience and history of women central to the study of any human concern. Scholarship in women’s and gender studies demonstrates the need to recognize new models of knowledge, as well as the need to be critical of theories and approaches that do not take into account the difference of gender. In so doing, women’s studies serves as a site for “reflective critique,” and it has often challenged the traditional disciplines to reflect on their concepts and methods in ways that have enriched those disciplines. At Stony Brook, the Women’s and Gender Studies program introduces students to the history of feminism, as well as its contemporary theories and methods. Feminist theory in a global context provides the background for a critique of the social construction of gender and its relation to other systems of privilege. The major and minor in Women’s and Gender Studies are designed for students interested in the interdisciplinary study of gender and women. The programs emphasize the development of skills in critical thinking, argumentation, and writing. Because it emphasizes transposable skills of reading, writing, analysis, and expression, women’s and gender studies provides an excellent preparation for graduate school, professional school, or employment. Graduates have gone on to careers in law, medicine, social work, psychology, teaching, and business, among other fields, and graduate work in women’s studies. Double majors, combining Women’s and Gender Studies with another field, are not uncommon. Students may choose to pursue a combined Women’s and Gender Studies B.A. and Master of Public Health.

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